Scotland 92 for 6 (Coetzer 41*, Ehsan Khan 3-29) beat Hong Kong 91 (Sole 4-15, Evans 3-19) by four wickets
Four wickets from offspinner Tom Sole helped Scotland to four-wicket win over Hong Kong at the Bulawayo Athletic Club. Sole’s 4 for 15 in ten overs restricted Hong Kong to just 91, and captain Kyle Coetzer then took his side to their second win in two matches with an unbeaten 41, though Scotland made heavy weather of the small target.
After Mark Watt and Alasdair Evans made early incisions for Scotland, Sole eviscerated the middle order and apart from the opening stand there was no partnership of substance to steady Hong Kong.
The damage started with Sole’s first delivery, which rushed on with the arm from around the wicket to pin Anshuman Rath lbw. In the same over, Scott McKechnie misjudged the line of an off stump delivery, the ball rushing through his defences to hit the stumps. From 46 for 0, Hong Kong had slipped to 52 for 4.
Things were about to get worse for Hong Kong. Immediately after the drinks break, their captain Babar Hayat skipped down the track to Sole, but didn’t get close to the pitch of the delivery. The ball spun sharply in to him, taking the inside edge and looping up via the left pad to be easily caught by Craig Wallace at short leg.
Hong Kong’s lower middle order appeared incapable of digging them out of the hole. Singles were hard to come by, while every attacking stroke seemed to bring a wicket. With an in-out field, Scotland cut off singles in the inner ring and left a couple of outfielders in place for the lofted stroke.
The tactic soon paid dividends when Safyaan Sharif’s pace rushed Shahid Wasif’s pull shot, the ball looping tamely off the splice to be caught by Brad Wheal at midwicket. Hong Kong were 61 for 6 then, and that soon became 67 for 7 when Waqas Barkat charged down the track and swished airily at Sole to give the offspinner his fourth wicket.
Tanwir Afzal scratched around for 29 deliveries, and then he too fell to a mistimed pull – his first shot in anger. After Watt bowled Ehsan Nawaz for his second wicket, Evans returned to have Nadeem Ahmed caught at second slip to wrap up the innings for 91.
Coetzer led Scotland’s chase with aplomb. Weathering a bristling opening spell from Nawaz that brought the wickets of Matthew Cross and the hero of Scotland’s opening win over Afghanistan, Calum MacLeod, Coetzer attacked Hong Kong’s spinners. Nadeem Ahmed was swatted over long off for six and down the ground for four more.
George Munsey pressed Scotland towards their target, pushing his luck with an edged stroke and a couple of reverse sweeps at Ehsan Khan before the offspinner got his revenge with a quicker one that trapped the left hander lbw. Khan bowled a sweeping Craig Wallace
for his third wicket, and Hong Kong then placed a short leg and two slips for the offspinner.
Watt laced a cut behind point to get Scotland within touching distance of the win, but he then top-edged an attacking stroke to be caught by Nizakat Khan off Aizaz Khan’s medium pace. Scotland were six down then, but Sharif sealed the result with a flicked boundary off his legs.
Liam Brickhill is a freelance journalist based in Zimbabwe
ESPN Sports Media Ltd.